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  • Writer's pictureOrthus Health

Allergies vs. Flu vs. COVID: Understanding the Difference

Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has declared May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. May is a peak season for people with

asthma and allergies, making it the perfect time for the Orthus Health Coaches to educate patients, family, friends, co-workers and others about these diseases.

More than 60 million Americans overall have asthma and allergies.

  • About 25 million Americans have asthma (19 million adults and 6.2 million children)

  • About 32 million Americans have food allergies (26 million adults and 6 million children)

  • About 21 million Americans have hay fever, rhinitis or nasal allergies (20 million adults and 5.6 million children)

With COVID-19, it is important now more than ever to manage these conditions and understand the difference of each. With many health care providers stressed, it’s best to keep asthma and allergies under control to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

A runny nose, facial pain, postnasal drip, and itchy eyes are common symptoms of allergies or the common cold, but they are not typical of COVID-19.

COVID-19, like the flu or common cold, is an acute illness, while allergies, are usually chronic, presenting symptoms off and on for a short or extended period of time. Allergy symptoms also tend to improve with antihistamine and other allergy-specific medication.

Distinguishing COVID-19 and the flu may be difficult, as there may be some overlap with the typical symptoms. Despite this overlap, the typical symptoms of COVID-19 are more like the flu (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue) than the common cold (runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, slight body aches, mild headache, sneezing, low-grade fever, malaise).

Because of the difficulty to distinguish the two, flu vaccinations have been recommended to lower the risk. If you are concerned about symptoms, contact your doctor or your local board of health to find out whether you should be tested and if testing is available near you.

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